Marcel Johnson ’19 and Maya Weber ’20 know firsthand the power of networking. By connecting with HWS alums during Finance Experiences in New York City and Boston, Johnson secured a position as a business associate in the human resources department at Wellington Management and Weber earned an internship at Bank of America. When it came time to develop a capstone project for their entrepreneurial studies minor, they knew they wanted to focus on networking.
Through their joint capstone project, they developed a model that focuses on the importance of networking. “Our goal is to guide students through the process of connecting with different people and make sure that they are actually creating relationships,” says Johnson.
Their solution is an online platform, Syndéseis — the name is the Greek word for connections —that helps to manage, track and guide users through the networking process. It provides users with a place to collect networking connections and serves as an organizational management tool, providing tips and tricks for establishing and maintaining relationships. Johnson and Weber presented Syndéseis as part of the senior capstone with Visiting Instructor of Entrepreneurial Studies Drury MacKenzie ’03 at the Bozzuto Center for Entrepreneurship.
Attending the presentation were Professor of Economics and Chair of the Environmental Studies Department and Entrepreneurial Studies Program Thomas Drennen and Margiloff Family Entrepreneurial Fellow Ed Bizari. “Finding that perfect job requires effective networking,” says Drennen. “Based on their own experiences, Maya and Marcel saw an opportunity and have proposed a unique platform to help college students land that first job.”
The main dashboard of Syndéseis includes People, Inbox, Tasks, Templates and Network tabs. The templates section “is our bread and butter,” says Johnson. It walks users through how to build a resume, how to send a first-contact email, how to follow up and how to build contacts.
The Contacts page captures information for each networking connection, including where they work, the last time they were contacted and a visual, such as a photo. Tagging a contact with key words allows users to quickly see all connections that share tags on the Contacts page.
Within three years, they hope to have 15 liberal arts colleges subscribe to the service. The target market for the program is liberal arts colleges in the United States, including students, recent graduates and career counselors, who can use the site to track student progress.
Handshake and LinkedIn are doing some of what they hope to achieve, but Syndéseis allows users to communicate with connections in a more meaningful and systematic way. The site will also be used to connect with high school students who are interested in college, guiding them through the application process and establishing connections.
At the conclusion of their presentation, MacKenzie asked the class, “Who wants to sign up for their beta launch?” Several hands went up, and one student called out, “I do!”
Weber plans to continue development of Syndéseis during her senior year, with Johnson helping with the project from Boston.
For more information about the Entrepreneurial Studies minor, click here.